There are two notable Muni events happening tomorrow, Saturday, September 20. First is the debut of the Muni Metro East light rail maintenance and storage facility. Located on Illinois Street between 25th Street and Cesar Chavez, the new facility is more convenient to the T-Third terminus at Sunnydale. LRVs can access the complex using two wyes south of the 23rd Street T-Third station. The $204 million facility will store 80 LRVs, thus providing relief to the overburdened Green Division at Balboa Park.
The other piece of news is the start of service on the new 74X line, a.k.a. CultureBus, a special service line that will link museums and other cultural institutions that are dispersed across San Francisco. The line will be introduced this week in order to usher in the opening of the new Academy of Sciences next week, on September 27. Fare — which is valid on the 74X for one full day — is $7 for adults, $5 for youth and seniors, and $3 with a Fast Pass. Service runs between about 8:40 am and 5:50 pm, on 20-minute headways. The line travels between Howard & New Montgomery and Golden Gate Park; along the way, it stops at the cluster of museums in the Yerba Buena District, at Union Square, and at the Asian Art Museum. Outbound buses then express to Golden Gate Park. The bus does not serve the more remotely-located Legion of Honor. Click here to see a list of inbound and outbound stops on the 74X.
Service will be run on special, branded vehicles — yellow, no less, so they will probably be difficult to miss. SFMTA anticipates pretty light ridership: about 20-30 riders per bus. The success of the new line is premised on the assumption that enough people are visiting multiple museums in a single day, in order to make the expensive fare worthwhile — and perhaps it is also premised on the assumption that riders are not sufficiently familiar with Muni to realize that the cultural institutions along the route are already well-served by much less expensive (although locally-serving) transit. It would be interesting to investigate the extent to which ridership would increase by anchoring this line at a regional rail node. One nice service option might be to coordinate service with the hourly northbound Caltrain arrivals on the weekend, depending on how many riders that connection would attract. Also: while the 74X route waffles within a few blocks of the BART subway, it does not actually stop directly at a station.
If you have an opportunity to ride the CultureBus this weekend, please write back with your experience!